Orlando Bonsai may now be contacted at PO box 2243, Goldenrod FL, 32733-2243, 407-497-6145.
What started as admiration for a beautiful photograph of a Japanese Maple bonsai forest turned into a passion for all things bonsai. From the first little tree purchased at Orlando’s Lake Eola Art Festival many years ago, that desire gradually grew into the reality of actually keeping trees alive and now a love for creating higher-quality trees. That Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Bonsai my parents gave me as a birthday gift began a knowledge quest and appreciation of bonsai. It wasn’t until I joined the Central Florida Bonsai Club and the Bonsai Societies of Florida in 1998 that I gained the knowledge to truly understand, experience and create bonsai as living art.
When a friend invited me to visit the local bonsai club, I never dreamed it would begin a life-long obsession for bonsai. My friend and I went to our first bonsai class with instructors aka bonsai artists by night and firemen by day, Rick Jeffrey and Chuck Conyers. Thank goodness that class came with a bonsai to practice my skills on. I still have it to this day. A little education saved that second bonsai from the same fate as my first. Then I joined Central Florida Bonsai Club and have been an enthusiast ever since. Monthly programs and workshops and a 10 week class that included field trips to bonsai nurseries and the homes of bonsai artists were fun, insightful and provided more material to work on. The amount of knowledge, both art and science, was incredible and I still call on those lessons to this day.
I’ve attended numerous demonstrations and workshops at the Club and through Bonsai Societies of Florida with numerous state-wide and nationally known bonsai artists and masters. I was a club officer for a number of years and that helped me to increase my knowledge immensely. I joined two local study groups where we invited many local, state and national artists to teach and share with our small group. For the last four years, I have volunteered with our local club at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, displaying bonsai, demonstrating techniques and answering bonsai questions from the public. Each experience has really helped me to become a better bonsai artist. As my skills grow, my enjoyment of bonsai continues to grow and blossom and I hope to share the love of bonsai with you.
In December of 2011, Orlando Bonsai’s Founder, Paul Pikel, decided to move on to other great bonsai adventures. Mike and Sandy Racinski, the new owners, are very excited about the future of Orlando Bonsai and wish Paul all the best and will be in touch often. We plan to continue and expand on what Paul has begun by offering quality products including Joshua Roth Limited and Arbortech and to provide customer service with a personal touch.
Paul Pikel has always had a great affinity for all things Japanese for as long as he could remember. However it wasn’t until a trip to the National Arboretum in Washington D.C. did he truly find his passion. Ever since that day, Paul has strived to gain as much information about these trees, and the proper way to develop them.
Upon his return to Florida he located the Central Florida Bonsai Club and has been a member ever since. Serving as Recording Secretary (2001 – 2003), Club President (2004 -2006) and is the current Club Treasurer. Paul remains an active member and supporter of the club that gave him so much.
In 2002, Paul started a small website (OrlandoBonsai.com) to provide case studies of his trees for others to learn from. Paul knew that he had to swallow his pride to truly achieve what he wanted to do through this media. He said, “People need to see failures and mistakes in this art form. It is easy to get discouraged when a tree dies and people needed to see that it’s okay.”
Paul has been fortunate enough to travel to Asia and Europe. In 2005, Paul attended Kokufu Ten in Ueno Park Japan. While there he visited the private collections of Kobiyoshi, Kimura, Kato, and many others.
In 2008, Paul had been nominated as Chairman of the BSF/Epcot Committee for the annual Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot. He had been on the committee for 6 years, and taking over as chairman was a special achievement for him.
Paul specializes in Bald Cypress, Ficus, and has become increasingly popular because of his grafting creativity, photography skills and bonsai educational videos.